SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NCUACS 5/4/88/A.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/A.57
NCUACS 5/4/88/A.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/A.54 Career, Honours and Awards
NCUACS 5/4/88/A.55, NCUACS 5/4/88/A.56 Autobiography
NCUACS 5/4/88/A.57 Miscellaneous
SECTION B ZOOLOGY AND MARINE BIOLOGY NCUACS 5/4/88/B.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.167
NCUACS 5/4/88/B.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.67 Research Projects
NCUACS 5/4/88/B.68-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.95 Lectures, Publications, Broadcasts
NCUACS 5/4/88/B.96-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.106 Visits and Expeditions
NCUACS 5/4/88/B.107-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.155 Correspondence
NCUACS 5/4/88/B.156-NCUACS 5/4/88/B.167 References and Recommendations
SECTION C RELIGION AND THE PARANORMAL NCUACS 5/4/88/C.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/C.111
NCUACS 5/4/88/C.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/C.11 Investigations and ideas
NCUACS 5/4/88/C.12-NCUACS 5/4/88/C.65 Lectures, Publications, Broadcasts
NCUACS 5/4/88/C.66-NCUACS 5/4/88/C.90 Religious Experience Research Unit (RERU)
NCUACS 5/4/88/C.91-NCUACS 5/4/88/C.110 Correspondence
NCUACS 5/4/88/C.111 Printed Material
SECTION D PATENTS, INVENTIONS, IDEAS NCUACS 5/4/88/D.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/D.11
SECTION E OTHER INTERESTS NCUACS 5/4/88/E.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.42
NCUACS 5/4/88/E.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.11 Flight and balloons
With an introductory note
NCUACS 5/4/88/E.12-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.23 Northern Cyclist Battalion (NCB)
With an introductory note
NCUACS 5/4/88/E.24-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.27 Drawing and painting
With an introductory note
NCUACS 5/4/88/E.28-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.34 Fiction and poetry
With an introductory note
NCUACS 5/4/88/E.35-NCUACS 5/4/88/E.42 Boxing
With an introductory note
SECTION F NON-PRINT MATERIAL NCUACS 5/4/88/F.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/F.56
NCUACS 5/4/88/F.1-NCUACS 5/4/88/F.48 Photographs
NCUACS 5/4/88/F.49, NCUACS 5/4/88/F.50 Drawings
NCUACS 5/4/88/F.51-NCUACS 5/4/88/F.54 Tape recordings
NCUACS 5/4/88/F.55, NCUACS 5/4/88/F.56 Films
It must be borne in mind that Hardy and his wife lived to a great age and as they became frailer moved to smaller accommodation with inevitable restrictions on space. Thus while the collection gives a good picture of most aspects of Hardy's many-sided life there are some omissions, such as any records of committee work for his several universities and departments, for government or advisory boards or for learned societies. There are few, albeit interesting, first-hand research records and Hardy's expeditions and travels are under-documented. The surviving correspondence is relatively thin and much must have been discarded. Fortunately Hardy, who was determined to write his autobiography, firmly kept documentation of what he considered key events or those which continued in the forefront of his interest. There is in consequence more material about his early formative years than about the established career, especially the Oxford period.
The papers are presented as shown in the List of Contents. Additional explanatory notes accompany many of the sections, sub-sections and individual entries in the body of the catalogue. The following paragraphs aim only to draw attention to material of particular interest.
Section A (Biographical and autobiographical) documents most of the steps in Hardy's career both in relation to formal appointments and to personal relationships, and includes some applications for or offers of posts not otherwise recorded; the material tails off somewhat after about 1950. There are also the plans, outlines and several draft chapters for the autobiography which Hardy did not live to complete; the extant draft goes up to 1925 and thus includes the crucial 'vow' which Hardy made in his first term at Oxford to try to bring about a reconciliation between evolution theory and the spiritual awareness of man.
Section B (Zoology and marine biology) contains the surviving research material with related publications, lectures and expeditions. It includes Hardy's early plankton research, the development of the plankton indicator and recorder, the ill-fated expedition and shipwreck of 1941 in an attempt to explore plankton as a food resource. Of special interest is the material on the Discovery expedition, with Hardy's preparatory work and sketches and his journals and reports; material on his published account of the voyage, Great Waters, and later correspondence are also included. Other projects are aerial drift, vertical migration and the 'Aquatic man' theory. The correspondence, though generally slight, has more substantial exchanges in the 1920s with Armand Denis whom Hardy met at Naples, and with Sir John Ellerman the reclusive millionaire shipping magnate who supported Hardy's oceanographic work at Hull.
Section C (Religion and the paranormal) supplies another dimension in Hardy's life and work. The material preserved here suggests that rather than being a scientist with a secondary interest in religious matters Hardy was a religious or mystic personality who saw his scientific career as an essential platform from which he could pursue a primary spiritual aim. The introduction to Section C develops and gives some of the evidence for this view.
The material includes records of Hardy's early (1916) and continuing interest in telepathy and thought transference. There is a considerable number of lectures and publications; the best-known are of course the Gifford Lectures, but they are only the most substantial contribution to a steady output right up to 1984 by no means all of which are listed in the published bibliographies. The history of the Religious Experience Research Unit is also documented in some detail through correspondence, minutes and other papers from its founding in 1968 to Hardy's death in 1985.
Section D (Patents, inventions, ideas) is a short section showing the liveliness and ingenuity of Hardy's mind, and also his self-confidence; the first attested patent dates from 1919, and he was still busy inventing devices of various kinds in 1979.
Section E (Other interests) bears more abundant testimony to Hardy's exceptional drive and energy. Some of the 'interests' such as flight and sketching might be termed 'hobbies' though Hardy put them to good use in other areas of his life. His short stories and writings were in part an attempt to externalise some of his philosophical and social preoccupations. The correspondence and other material on boxing, and on the Northern Cyclist Battalion, however, bring out much more sharply some of the factors bearing on his formation and mind. There are fuller notes on all these topics in Section E.
Section F contains photographs, tape recordings and film of most phases in Hardy's career, including his war service, the Discovery and other expeditions, his university departments at Hull and Oxford and some of his marine research. The tape recordings are of his autobiographical Desert Island Discs programme, and expositions of his views on evolution and religion.
The obituary of Hardy published in The Times bore the headline 'Zoologist and religious thinker', and with truth. Yet this leaves out of count one of the most fundamental aspects of his character as shown in his personal papers: an amalgam of philanthropy, idealism, social concern, anger at false values, revulsion from established privilege and artificial barriers. This complex emotion, which Hardy himself found hard to express in other than rather naive terms, was triggered by his sudden contact as an immature 19 year old with the Northumberland and Durham pitmen of the Northern Cyclist Battalion. He felt, as he later explained, intense anger at having been misled by his education and social circumstances into such ignorance of life, and he determined never himself to erect social barriers and to dismantle them wherever he could. His resolution combined with his innate energy and he was as good as his word. The collection abounds in clusters of correspondence from those in subordinate positions whom he never overlooked, never forgot, and never treated as other than a friend. The letters speak directly or by implication of steady exchanges of news, advice, visits, remembrances for birthdays, Christmas, weddings and christenings unto the second and third generation. One has a picture of Hardy making regular safaris often to considerable distances to hospitals, homes and gatherings, arranging reunion meals and meetings, welcoming old acquaintances at his home, and also of wives, children and grandchildren taking up a treasured correspondence when the original recipient was too infirm, or dead. There were shipmates from the George Bligh (A.14) and Discovery (A.16), laboratory staff from Hull (A.23, A.24), Aberdeen (A.39) and Oxford (A.47). There are sparring partners (E.35-E.42). There are touching letters from the widows of the lost crewmen of the Christine Rose (A.33). Most remarkable is the long sequence of letters and other material from the ex-servicemen of the Northern Cyclist Battalion (E.12-E.23) with its repeated testimony to the respect and affection which Hardy inspired in those who kept up the correspondence. While there was undoubtedly some measure of social guilt on Hardy's part, and a degree of artificiality in such a relationship, yet his own directness and simplicity make it impossible to do other than admire his dedication.
Hardy thus emerges as something of a Protean figure yet wholly straightforward in all his activities. It is perhaps significant that he went by an unusual variety of names to suit the circumstances. He did not like his own name Alister which he described as 'sissy', though he used it and was addressed by it in official correspondence and by less close friends. To university employees he was 'Prof' and to their families and children 'Uncle Prof'. To most scientific colleagues he was 'A.C.'. To his father-in-law he was and signed himself 'Ali'. More mysteriously, old friends from Oundle and Plymouth called him 'Glider' and some of his Lowestoft colleagues use 'Clarence'. But to his shipmates and NCB comrades he was always 'Mac', and 'Uncle Mac' to their families, contracted from 'Mac - Alister' a nickname he had been given in 1915 because of the vaguely Scottish origins of his own name. It is uncommon to find someone answering to so many names - one is reminded of David Copperfield - and it adds another strand to the tantalising mixture of complexity and simplicity in Hardy's personality.